A studio portrait photographer stumbled into Ahearn Field House the other morning loaded down with enough fancy equipment to photograph a fly sitting on the side of the Empire State Building.
Unfortunately, for him, he did not have one single camera in the bag capable of getting all 102 stories in the same photo. But he soon realized, to complete this assignment, nothing less would do.
The man's task was to make the team photo of the basketball team that will represent the United States in the Pan American Games. The members of the 12-man squad come in all shapes and sizes, but a majority of them have a tendency to be tall. Very tall.
When the smaller guys on the front row were in focus, the big people on the back seemed so far away they could have been standing in the Big Apple, the original Manhattan. Yet when the camera lens brought the back row into clear focus, the faces of the little guys were fuzzy.
There seemed to be no betwixt and between.
"I sure hope," the photographer said apologetically to Pan Am coach Jack Hartman, "they look better on the court than they do in this picture."
Despite the photographer's problems, perhaps the most amazing thing about the photo was that Wayman Tisdale could pick himself out in the shots when the small guys could be identified. He was a blur, however, when the mothers of the big guys could recognize their sons.
It was a revolutionary feeling indeed for the freshman from the University of Oklahoma not to be standing on the back row in a team photo, although it's the second time in two months he has posed with the shrimps. In June, Tisdale was photographed as a member of Playboy's upcoming All-America team. He posed sitting down.
"Now that was a tall bunch," Tisdale said, referring to Houston's Akeem "The Dream" Olajuwon, Kentucky's twin peaks of 7-0 Sam Bowie and 6-11 Mel Turpin, and North Carolina's Sam Perkins.
The only one of those four joining Tisdale on the Pam American team is Perkins, who at 6-10 is the one player listed larger than the Big Eight's Player of the Year. But, perhaps in deference to their age, the 6-9 Tisdale gave Ed Pinckney, Michael Cage and Greg Stokes all older and all listed at 6-9 the spots on the back row. He moved into a place on the middle aisle.
"I've been trying all my life to be shorter anyway," he said with a shrug.
But Wayman Tisdale's days of being "normal" size, as well as being anonymous, are gone forever. Hartman has collected several million dollars worth of basketball talent to take to Caracas, Venezuela, but no member of the squad has more interview requests or comes under closer inspection than Tisdale, whose accomplishments as a freshman are worth mentioning.
Just in case you've forgotten, Tisdale was: First freshman in history to be named first-team Associated Press All-America.
First freshman in history to lead the Big Eight in scoring and rebounding.
Broke Wilt Chamberlain's Big Eight scoring record with 810 points.
Was the Big Eight's Player and Rookie of the Year.
Was named NBC-TV and ESPN's Freshman of the Year.
Set a school record by scoring 51 points in his fourth college game.